Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7936 / Tees

Posted by duncanshiell on March 22nd, 2012


The Independent provides a varied diet of crosswords with an interesting mix of difficulty, types of clues, themes and ninas.




On the face of it, today’s offering was a good sound crossword with almost all the entries within the normal vocabulary of Independent readers.  There were a couple of words or names that I deduced from the wordplay but had to check before writing the blog – e.g. TRADESCANT and one of the meanings of TOGETHER.

It wasn’t until I was about 75% of the way through this puzzle that I saw that Tees was using his name to full effect around the perimeter of the grid.  You probably all noticed much quicker than I that every letter in the perimeter is a T.  There are a total of 34 Tees in the puzzle.

The clues were reasonably easy to parse, but you will note that I still have difficulties with the very first one – 8 across – TOMATOES – where I am unsure how to handle the second O properly. Afternote: Not surprisingly it didn’t take very long for a sensible parsing of MATOES to be provided – see Eileen’s comment at 1. MATES with O (nothing) inside are hungry.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
8 We’re food to hungry friends! (8)

TO MATES (to friends) containing (hungry [?]) O (Oxygen [?] – oxygen is probably important to the growth of tomatoes.  Can oxygen be considered to be a plant food?)  I admit that I am struggling with full understanding of wordplay in this clue.  I can get the TO MATES bit, but I am unsure of the parsing of the extra O . Perhaps the O contained in MATES is intended to represent a TOMATO being eaten by hungry MATES? Afternote: See preamble for a far better parsing


TOMATOES (fruits that are eaten; we’re food)
9 Cross put in by lucky defender (6)

MULE (the offspring of a donkey and horse, hence it a cross) contained in (put in) AT (by)


AMULET (a charm worn to ward off evil, disease, etc; a medicine supposed to operate magically; a lucky defender)

10 Hymn Corporation saves venerable monk bishop sent packing (2,4)

TUM (stomach; corporation) containing (saves) BEDE (reference the Venerable BEDE, [672/673 – 735] a monk from the Northumberland monastery of Saint Peter of Monkwearmouth [part of modern day Sunderland]) excluding (sent packing) B (bishop)


TE DEUM (a famous Latin hymn of the Western Church, expressing praise and thanksgiving)

11 Urban wheels revealed? (8)

Anagram of (wheels) URBAN + OUT (revealed)


RUNABOUT (a small light car ideal for city driving; urban wheels) &Lit clue
12 People generally having come west so far without horse (4)

YET (up to the present time; so far) reversed (come west) containing (without; outwith) H (heroin; horse)

T (H) EY<

THEY (people in general)
13 Cool new note held in performing song (10)

N (new) +(LA [note of the tonic sol-fa]  contained in [held in] [ON {performing} + CHANT {song}])


15 Soldier shot back to cover second-in-command (7)

REPORT (explosive noise; shot) reversed (back) containing (to cover) O (second letter of [second-in] COMMAND)


TROOPER (soldier)
16 On about any number buried in card player’s grave (7)

(RE [with refererence to; concerning; on] containing (about) N [any number]) all contained in (buried in) EAST (card player at bridge)

EA (R (N) E) ST

EARNEST (serious, especially over serious; grave)
19 Business meagre for historic gardener (10) TRADE (business) + SCANT (meagre)

TRADESCANT (reference John TRADESCANT [c.1567 -1637 {historic}], English gardener, naturalist and traveller)

21 Pressure to consume fuel (4) P (pressure) + EAT (consume) PEAT (fuel)
22 The quality of American English comes to Roosevelt (8) THE + ODOR (American spelling of ODOUR [repute {figuratively}]; American quality ) + E (English) THEODORE (reference THEODORE Roosevelt [1858 – 1919, 26th President of the United States [1901 – 1909])
24 For Sarkozy here is most slippery (6) ICI (here [in French] + EST [is [in French])  Monsieur Sarkozy, is, of course, at the moment, the President of France ICIEST (most slippery)
25 Easy goals for one in tight-pants (3-3)

I (one) contained in (in) an anagram of (tight) PANTS


TAP-INS (simple shots from a short distance into undefended goals; easy goals)

26 Just beats son to use potty (5,3) Anagram of (potty) SON TO USE NOSES OUT (just beats)
1 On the trot in stable (8) TOGETHER (continuously; in succession without a break; on the trot) TOGETHER ([emotionally] stable)  Double definition
2 Have faith in Tees to provide some lovemaking synonym? (4,2,4,3,2) TAKE MY WORD FOR IT (IT can be defined as sexual intercourse [making love]; TEES [compiler; my] is offering [providing]  a word for [synonym] of IT)

TAKE MY WORD FOR IT (accept what TEES says as true, when you have no means of knowing personally; have faith in)

3 Torturers, two heartless soldiers, gain access to society (10) TWO (excluding the middle letter [heartless] W + RM (Royal Marines; soldiers) + ENTER (gain access to) + S (society) TORMENTERS (torturers)
4 Empress volunteers to inhale lethal gas (7)

TA (territorial Army; volunteers) containing (to inhale) SARIN (a compound of phosphorus used as a lethal nerve gas)


TSARINA (a Russian empress)
5 Deserter sent up north finds mountain lake (4)

RAT (deserter) reversed (sent up; down clue) + N (north)


TARN (small mountain lake)
6 Sprite for Thomas Becket! (9,6) SPRITE is a TURBULENT form of (an anagram of ) PRIEST

TURBULENT PRIEST (oral legend has it that Henry II said ‘who will rid me of this TURBULENT PRIEST‘ at a time when he was particularly annoyed with THOMAS BECKET [later THOMAS A’ BECKET], Archbishop of Canterbury.  Somebody did rid him of BECKET as the Archbishop was murdered by followers of the King, in Canterbury Cathedral, in 1170.  Some historians dispute the wording of Henry‘s wish.  It seems that changing the Archbishop is a less dramatic event these days, but passions are still aroused by the thought of having to do so – just read the letters columns and opinion pieces in the press that have been published recently after Rowan Williams announced he would be stepping down.)

7 First in the water with Royal Navy vessel in mess? (3,3) T (first letter of [first in]) THE + EAU (water, although French it is used in compound English words and phrases) + RN (Royal Navy)

TEA URN (a large closed urn with a tap, often also a heating device, for making tea in quantity. An appliance [vessel] found in a mess [canteen])

14 Husband is athlete trained to be fitter than any other (10) Anagram of (trained to be) H [husband] and IS ATHLETE HEALTHIEST (fitter than any other)
17 Steamer round Scots river having turned up on time is anchored (5,3)

SS (steamship; steamer) containing (round) TAY (longest river in Scotland) + UP reversed (turned) + T (time)


STAYS PUT (remains passively; is anchored)
18 Insect carrying leaf in eleaborate display (7) PAGE (leaf) + ANT (insect)   This is a down clue so ANT appears to be carrying PAGE PAGEANT (magnificent procession or parade; elaborate display)
20 Starter, for anyone there, in pie to warm again (6) Anagram of (in pie) THERE and A (first letter of [starter for] ANYONE) REHEAT (warm again)
23 Just hop into this oven! (4) OAST (kiln;  oven) OAST (an oven designed specifically to dry hops)  The dictionary says an OAST is also used to dry malt, so technically it is not ‘just hop[s]’ in the oven

18 Responses to “Independent 7936 / Tees”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Duncan and, of course, Tees – lovely stuff!

    Re 8ac, I took MATOES as being mates with nothing inside them , therefore hungry!

  2. duncanshiell says:

    Eileen @ 1

    Your parsing of 8 across makes a lot more sense than my rather tortuous and strained suggestions – thanks

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    I’ll make you feel better about yourself by fessing up to the fact that I too had three-quarters of it finished before spotting all the Ts. And I doubt I would have finished it without that, because I was struggling with the last few.

    Clever theme, and a puzzle I liked very much. RUNABOUT I got, but that kind of &lit is completely wasted on a solver of my ability, so thank goodness for 225. TE DEUM was good (Bede was the first Black Cat, apparently), and I was also pleased to get TRADESCANT from the wordplay.

    But surely the TAKE MY WORD FOR IT is also part of the theme? Is Tees not suggesting that we should take ‘his word’ (T) for ‘it’ (the theme)? Or perhaps I’m being too devious.

  4. Tees says:

    Well, you never know K’s D.

    Brilliant blog Duncan, as ever. Very uncharacteristically you have missed a word at clue for 7D, which should say ‘vessel in mess’ for the definition part.

  5. duncanshiell says:

    K’s Dad @ 3 – My gut reaction is that you are being too devious, and Tees response at 4 makes me think he didn’t really mean it that way, but I could be wrong (I often am).

    Tees @ 4 Ah! – a simple copy typing error I’m afraid. The clue to 7 down is correct now and, as a result, I have slightly reworded the wordplay comment to describe an appliance as a vessel.

  6. Querulous says:

    Thanks Duncan and Tees.

    There were two gardening John Tradescants, who were father and son. Though the name might not be that well-known, gardeners will probably have come across the plant named after the father – the tradescantia (or spiderwort).

  7. Tees says:

    There were indeed. Choose according to preference – the definition allows for either!

    A great word to clue, but TRADESCANT’s just possibly one I wouldn’t have gone with in a plain puzzle. I think I managed to keep the recondite words at bay within reason however, and retain some nice long entries, while NOSES OUT and STAYS PUT were just a bit bloomin’ awkward to clue! IIRC, it was something of a fiddle to get things sorted in terms of the entries closest to the edge.

  8. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, “Ts” and Duncan. I may have been lucky here in that I saw the Ts emerging very early on. Wrote Ts into all the empty spaces in the perimeter then and the rest of the solve turned out to be quite easy. Very impressive to fill the grid with normal words and phrases. The only one I did not know before was TRADESCANT but the wordplay could hardly have been easier. Favourite clue TAKE MY WORD FOR IT.

  9. hounddog says:

    Duncan & K’sD, you weren’t alone. I think I had four left to solve when I spotted the Ts.

  10. Allan_C says:

    Doh! Never spotted all the T’s till Duncan pointed them out; might have finished a lot quicker if I had.

    K’s D: after your comment about hockey the other day I see we’re back to footie with TAP-INS and the surface of the clue for AMULET.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    It’s bizarre, isn’t it, how you can be so focused on solving a puzzle that you don’t see what is completely obvious once you look at the filled grid. Maybe people’s brains work in different ways, or perhaps with a themed crossword you just need to step away for a minute and look at the big picture.

    As for the footie, I will beg Gaufrid’s indulgence and pass on my congratulations to the setter for his team’s excellent season. So far.

  12. Tees says:

    Hmmm. ‘So far’. Pah.

  13. Bertandjoyce says:

    Well, it seems that a number of us missed the Ts until well into the puzzle although normally this sort of grid pattern tends to suggest a theme or nina – maybe it’s just late in the evening! Having spotted the theme it did help for the last few. A really amazing feat again from Tees!

    Thanks Duncan for the blog and Tees for dropping in!

  14. Dormouse says:

    Totally failed to spot the Ts, and failed to coplete the top left corner. A read toughie.

  15. flashling says:

    Bit late on parade, unlike most I had the T connection early on (well suspected anyway) this to me caused it to unravel very quickly which was a bit of a shame as I had some time to kill, some very nice misdirection I thought and looking back without the T link some rather tricky clues. Cheers T’s and Duncan.

  16. Wil Ransome says:

    Really good I thought, very clever to get all those Ts round the edge without having to resort much to either strange words or unsatisfactory checking. And some excellent clues. I was less than happy with at = by, but I suppose it’s OK, and I also had doubts about calling marines soldiers: are they? I always thought they were halfway between soldiers and sailors.

  17. duncanshiell says:

    Will Ransome @ 16

    I also wondered about ‘marine’ but when I saw that Chambers defined ‘marine’ as ‘a soldier serving on board ship’ I felt that it was OK.

  18. Adam says:

    So pleased to have found your site. Most helpful. Had Tormentors – didn’t enter my head that the spelling could be different. Need to watch out for those :)

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